Alaska professor fears the worst for climate research programs at state university
As Alaskans learn more about how Gov. Mike Dunleavy's vetoes could affect the state, a university professor says the school's leading research in climate science could be impacted.
"It's really important that we're studying climate change because the pace and the size of the changes are so much bigger than most of the other places in the United States," said professor of environmental science Eran Hood, who teaches at the University of Alaska Southeast.
Hood said cuts could affect not only research, but faculty who bring in money to the state.
"A lot of the research that's being done in the Arctic on changes in permafrost and glaciers is being done by people at the University of Alaska," he said. "It's bringing a tremendous amount of federal money into the state to help us to understand problems that affect Alaskans everyday lives but also bring a lot of money into the economy."
If the cuts happen, he says that could all change because faculty will leave and take their expertise with them taking away real-life experience for students.
"This research that we're doing, it not only helps us understand what is happening in Alaska it also provides incredible training opportunities for students who can go on to work in research agencies, consulting firms, mining industry," Hood said. "The kind of hands-on training that you get through this research, this faculty-funded research, is an incredible opportunity for students and it would really be a tragedy to lose that."
Even if the programs aren't cut, Hood says he and many of his colleagues believe harm has already been done to Alaska universities.
"When you look at parents who want to send their kids they say, 'Wow. Would I want to send my kid to someplace where there's so much uncertainty?' That's putting us in a situation where it's really a damage to the UA brand and I think that's really unfortunate," Hood said.
For now, many professors and students are waiting to see what will happen next.
The University of Alaska board of regents were scheduled to meet Tuesday to consider a structure for the university system and hear from the Dunleavy administration about the budget.
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